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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Two quick title defenses boost Figueiredo

Deiveson Figueiredo defended his UFC flyweight championship twice in 21 days, earning a bump in the men's rankings. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Deiveson Figueiredo put in the work as 2020 wound down, and it has elevated him in ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings -- a small boost with huge symbolic significance.

Figueiredo, who became UFC men's flyweight champion in July with a choke-out victory over longtime contender Joseph Benavidez, defended his belt on Nov. 21 and made quick work of it, submitting Alex Perez in less than two minutes.

Then, before the evening was over, the Brazilian agreed to make a second title defense just three weeks later, a record turnaround for a UFC champ.

Figueiredo's second defense turned out to be a tougher one. On Dec. 12, he fought to a majority draw with Brandon Moreno, who sits right behind him in the ESPN men's flyweight rankings. Figueiredo had to work for it, but he kept his strap.

On the strength of that record run, Figueiredo moved up one spot in the ESPN men's pound-for-pound top 10. It's a small move, but it looms large when one considers whom he leapfrogged: Demetrious Johnson, the former longtime champion, considered by many to be the greatest flyweight ever. "Mighty Mouse" has a chance to reassert himself on Feb. 24, when he challenges Adriano Moraes for the One Championship flyweight title.

Figueiredo's short climb was the only movement in the men's rankings, and the women's top 10 remained intact. Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian were the only ranked females to see action since the previous rankings vote. On the UFC 255 card headlined by Figueiredo vs. Perez, Shevchenko defeated Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision to successfully defend her flyweight championship, and Chookagian beat Cynthia Calvillo. Everyone remains right where they were last time.

(For Brett Okamoto's division-by-division rankings, go here.)

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Dec. 15.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Record: 29-0
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (SUB2) Justin Gaethje, Oct. 24, 2020
Next: Announced retirement


2. Jon Jones

Record: 26-1, 1 NC
Weight class: Light heavyweight/announced move to heavyweight
Last: W (UD) Dominick Reyes, Feb. 8, 2020
Next: TBD


3. Stipe Miocic

Record: 20-3
Weight class: Heavyweight
Last: W (UD) Daniel Cormier, Aug. 15, 2020
Next: March 27 vs. Francis Ngannou


4. Israel Adesanya

Record: 20-0
Weight class: Middleweight
Last: W (TKO2) Paulo Costa, Sept. 26, 2020
Next: March 6 vs. Jan Blachowicz


5. Kamaru Usman

Record: 17-1
Weight class: Welterweight
Last: W (UD) Jorge Masvidal, July 11, 2020
Next: Feb. 13 vs. Gilbert Burns


6. Alexander Volkanovski

Record: 22-1
Weight class: Featherweight
Last: W (SD) Max Holloway, July 11, 2020
Next: March 27 vs. Brian Ortega


7. Deiveson Figueiredo

Previous ranking: 8
Record: 20-1-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: D (MD) Brandon Moreno, Dec. 12, 2020
Next: TBD


8. Demetrious Johnson

Previous ranking: 7
Record: 30-3-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (UD) Danny Kingad, Oct. 12, 2019
Next: April 7 vs. Adriano Moraes


9. Dustin Poirier

Record: 27-6, 1 NC
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (TKO2) Conor McGregor, Jan. 23, 2021
Next: TBD


10. Francis Ngannou

Record: 15-3
Weight class: Heavyweight
Last: W (KO1) Jairzinho Rozenstruik, May 9, 2020
Next: March 27 vs. Stipe Miocic

Other fighters receiving votes: Petr Yan, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Conor McGregor and Robert Whittaker


How our writers voted

Brett Okamoto
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Israel Adesanya
4. Stipe Miocic
5. Kamaru Usman
6. Alexander Volkanovski
7. Deiveson Figueiredo
8. Demetrious Johnson
9. Dustin Poirier
10. Max Holloway

Marc Raimondi
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Kamaru Usman
5. Israel Adesanya
6. Alexander Volkanovski
7. Petr Yan
8. Francis Ngannou
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
10. Robert Whittaker

Ariel Helwani
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Israel Adesanya
5. Kamaru Usman
6. Alexander Volkanovski
7. Dustin Poirier
8. Justin Gaethje
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
10. Conor McGregor

Jeff Wagenheim
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Demetrious Johnson
5. Israel Adesanya
6. Kamaru Usman
7. Deiveson Figueiredo
8. Alexander Volkanovski
9. Francis Ngannou
10. Dustin Poirier


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

Record: 20-4
Weight class: Bantamweight/featherweight
Last: W (UD) Felicia Spencer, June 6
Next: March 6 vs. Megan Anderson


2. Valentina Shevchenko

Record: 20-3
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (UD) Jennifer Maia, Nov. 21
Next: TBD


3. Cris Cyborg

Record: 23-2, 1 NC
Weight class: Featherweight
Last: W (SUB2) Arlene Blencowe, Oct. 15
Next: TBD


4. Zhang Weili

Record: 21-1
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: W (SD) Joanna Jedrzejczyk, March 7
Next: TBD


5. Rose Namajunas

Record: 9-4
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: W (SD) Jessica Andrade, July 11
Next: TBD


6. Jessica Andrade

Record: 21-8
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (TKO1) Katlyn Chookagian, Oct. 17
Next: TBD


7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Record: 16-4
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: L (SD) Zhang Weili, March 7
Next: TBD


8. Germaine de Randamie

Record: 10-4
Weight class: Bantamweight
Last: W (TechSUB3) Julianna Peña, Oct. 3
Next: TBD


9. Holly Holm

Record: 14-5
Weight class: Bantamweight
Last: W (UD) Irene Aldana, Oct. 3
Next: TBD


10. Katlyn Chookagian

Record: 15-4
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (UD) Cynthia Calvillo, Nov. 21
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Julia Budd and Seo Hee Ham


How our writers voted

Brett Okamoto
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Zhang Weili
4. Rose Namajunas
5. Cris Cyborg
6. Jessica Andrade
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Katlyn Chookagian

Marc Raimondi
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Jessica Andrade
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Seo Hee Ham

Ariel Helwani
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Jessica Andrade
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Katlyn Chookagian

Jeff Wagenheim
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Jessica Andrade
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Julia Budd